Robocall fallout haunts Tories


Allegations of electoral hijinks and possible fraud dogged Conservatives Thursday even as the party tried to distance itself from an explosive report on the party’s use of robocalls in the last election.

Sun Media, citing party sources, says a Conservative staffer is being investigated in the case, which saw calls claiming to originate from Elections Canada go out to voters in several swing ridings.

Speaking in Iqaliut, Prime Minister Stephen Harper denied his party had any knowledge of the tactics. But writing in the Globe, John Ibbitson wondered if the Conservatives’ permanent warfare approach was at least indirectly to blame:

(T)hey may have instilled such an intensely partisan anything-you-can-get-away-with mentality among their campaign workers that one or more of them concluded it would be okay to cross the line of legality.

Political parties can’t be held responsible for the actions of rogue supporters. But they can he held accountable for creating environments that produce those rogues.

This is a mirror into which Stephen Harper and everyone who works for him should be looking.

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Robocall fallout haunts Tories

  1. The lying cheating Conservatives stole themselves an election. Now we must have 27 by-elections or else a country-wide election in the next 3 months.

    No salaries or pensions for the Conservatives who won by cheating.

    • There must be some consequences, of course, but the riding at the heart of this story, in Guelph, was won by the Liberals. Would a by-election there make sense?

      •  If the vote was contaminated, yes.

        • …and what if the Conservatives won the by-election?

          • Then that would be the true representation of that riding.
            If the people want to vote conservative they have every eight to, the same way they have every right to vote liberal, NDP or green etc.

    • Exactly the type of thing Herr Harper would reward his Kanadaluftwaffe for.

    • That you think this is a plausible course of events is pretty funny.

      • Elections Canada does have protocols for this sort of thing. If the foul play could have materially changed the outcome of the election, then there would be by-elections. The problem is that it is very unlikely that any foul play altered the outcome of any elections in question.

        Look at the Tory margin of victory in the original 18 ridings:
        Kitchener-Conestoga: +32.28%Niagara Falls: +29.77%Haldimand-Norfolk: +26%Cambridge: +25.72%Egmont: +23.34%Oakville: +20.92%Saint-Boniface: +19.5%London West: +17.72%Eglinton-Lawrence: +8.39%Kitchener-Waterloo, +3.23%London North Centre: +3.16%Don Valley East: +2.22%Winnipeg South Centre: +1.8%Willowdale: +1.8%Sydney-Victoria: -2.06%St. Paul’s: -8.2%Guelph: -10.72%Parkdale-High Park, -31.65%

        Even in the closest race – Willowdale – you’d have to find evidence that 961 people were robocalled. And before 1000 Liberal and NDP Willowdalers call the CBC, my guess is that Racknine’s phone records are being subpeonaed. We should be able to get to the bottom of this using phone records, and I welcome the day that happens.

        • Whether the foul play materially changed the outcome of the election or not should not make a difference to the fact that there was deception involved. Now that this information is known to the public it may make a huge difference if there was an election called today now that everyone is aware of how Harper and the Conservatives work.

    • Are you sure you want to have by-elections in the ridings where the Liberals won?

      • Yes. Because the process of democracy is at least as important, if not more so, than the results of it.

  2. I’m curious why the Star (or any other report on this) hasn’t outlined who won the ridings involved.

    I’m not doubting conservative shenanigans, as they’ve proven they’re more than capable. I’d just like to see if these particular shenanigans actually resulted in their benefit.

    • It doesn’t really matter Shawn because this was aimed at subverting democracy. That’s what fascists do.

      • You, Bob Rae, Ms. Turmel and others are “guessing” that the Conservatives are involved but already one Conservative MP has said his riding was victimized as well.  Therefore, perhaps it isn’t the Conservatives but people who want to “subvert’ the voting process in Canada….people who wanted to mess with the election because they find the process distasteful.

        •  Del Mastro simply isn’t credible. Why didn’t he bring this up before today? I suggest that he didn’t because it didn’t happen. The other cases were known to Elections Canada. He’s a know victim/whiner. I mean he whined because some school in his riding invited Justin Trudeau to come out and give a talk.

        • Exactly — he said this today in a desperate and transparent attempt to say “Ooooh, the bad apples attacked ALL the parties!”

          He is not credible and has no evidence, but apparently there are 18 ridings where there is evidence that the Conservative Party attempted to suppress the vote.

          It is in fact a legal right to vote without interference.  Just as rottenness decimated the Liberal Party, this could — and should — have repercussions to the Conservatives.

        • We are not”guessing” it was Conservatives involved, they ADMITTED IT.

          Peter van Loan admitted that Conservative callers lied to Liberal supporters in Montreal, and said that they were “exercising their freedom of speech.”

          Which is both ridiculous and untrue, as that very speech is illegal in Canada.  It is also illegal to interfere with someone’s right to vote.

          Van Loan needs to step down.

    • For interest’s sake, sure I’d like to know too, but frankly, even if no votes were swayed or lost by this tactic, the fact that they tried to subvert democracy by misrepresenting Elections Canada is enough to warrant a charge of “intent to commit treason” in my opinion.

      For me there’s no way to view this as anything BUT treason, as it strikes at the very core of our democracy: who controls the levers of power.

      • Oh, I fully agree with you (and Gtrplyr055). Would just like to know if in fact there was any change in outcome.

        • Yeah, you, me and the 15 million other voters I imagine! LOL

      • That would be a very good question to ask of Senator Finley.  He was after all intimately involved in many aspects of the Tory campaigns and look where he is now!
        It did cost $52,000 to settle on the I&O and he’s getting a v.good salary for years to come.  Of course, he will run for election very soon…..

      • Yes, whoever messed around with people is guilty of treason but supposition is not the same thing as proof.  If Conservative voters were also messed with, then maybe it was a group who had an axe to grind with the election process (occupy?)

        • You are forgetting that this person had access to party lists.  Now, it is conceivable, I suppose, that some Occupier could have infiltrated a campaign as a Conservative or Liberal party volunteer.  I highly doubt a volunteer who has not been known by the EDA for years would have access to the party list –and even if they did, they most certainly would only have had access to the list in that riding.  There is no way they would have had access to the entire database, so now that means twenty-seven Occupiers would have had to infiltrate the different campaigns.

          Credible, it is not.

        • @ Healthcare Insider — nope, it was all Conservative on Liberal.  The robocalls, a Conservative client.  The call center in Sault Ste Marie was a Conservative client, and a woman there apparently called Elections Canada when given a script to read misinforming Liberal supporters.  I hope she kept it.

      •  And how would you know if no votes were swayed by this?  Someone not voting…well they were told to go to another polling station that either rejected them or was non-existent. 

        Having another election is telling those that perpetrated the fraud they there is no penalty for the action, that you will get a do-over if you cheat and get caught, but there is no real penalty for the illegal action.

        The only thing that makes sense is NOT to have by-elections as the Conservative “do-over”.  Declare those ridings as undecided or as independent in political make-up, strip the fraudulent trickster party from having federal status and without federal status they cannot form a federal government and then declare the runner up party as the official government.  This means that any party that tampers with Canadian electorat does not get a “do-over” and that there are real and severe consequences from any actions to defraud voters of their democratic right!

        Harper and the Conservatives know the rules as do all other parties and any deviation from the rules is met with a severe and swift judgement that does not re-ward the offenders but punishes them for their callous treatment of the democratic election process!

    • all depends who’s in power!!!!!  they all do things like this–& the oppositions” make hay”–while the son shines!!!!

      • When you say “like this” do you mean running ads, or do you mean breaking the law by suppressing te physical opportunity to vote? If b, an example please.

  3. 1) At least 18 ridings were targeted, maybe more. All of them potential swing ridings according to reports.
    2) Using a system whose design allows for essentially anonymous messaging so that the company can claim ignorance of what was said or how it was used.
    3) A system run by a company working for the Conservatives, the messages sent through the Conservative party account.
    4) Whose voters somehow weren’t targeted.
    Good grief.
    It beggars belief that something so large and so targeted could be done without group coordination, without use of the Conservatives’ vaunted electoral database, and without the knowledge of someone in a position of power that oversees multiple ridings. This stinks to high hell of campaign fraud of the highest order.
    As I’ve said before, anyone faking a message like this from a government department, especially in cases affecting the establishment and running of our federal government of all things, should be charged with treason. Nothing less would reflect the seriousness of this situation.
    It matters not one whit whether a single vote was actually lost here. The principle itself should be sacrosanct in a democracy.
    And as a side note, I’m disgusted with the CPC’s response. If they honestly took this type of thing seriously they should be out in front in terms of denouncing this and finding the perpetrators.
    Their tepid response signals to me that they aren’t taking this nearly as seriously as they should.

    •  Some news reports last night said that it was Liberal voters who were targeted – how would they be able to identify Liberal voters?  (with everything else the harper mob is up to with their ‘clear mandate’, I’m just a tad paranoid now)

      •  …scratch that (except the part about being paranoid) – just found Wherry’s link to Bryden’s review

      • I don’t really know, but perhaps while they were building their database they took note of those who claimed to be Liberal, not just those who claimed to be conservative?

        I mean why wouldn’t they do that? It would certainly make their operations more efficient if they knew who not to bother with as well as who they could count on right? It’s not like there’s a limitation on the size of the database from a technological perspective.

        For people willing to peruse Facebook for signs of “pro-liberal” behaviour so they can limit access to their events, this hardly seems out of character either.

        Frankly I don’t want any of this to be true. While I may disagree with social conservative perspectives, I’m a long time PC member, and it kills me to think that anyone would go this far.

        It’s one thing to play hardball, but this stinks of treason, which doesn’t really fit any of the ideals of conservatism at all.

        • Apparently all parties their rivals’ voter intentions. They talked about this on Power Play today. People who respond to those mailings get tracked.

          • That should read “…all parties track their ….” Sorry.

    •  Plus this is an election where Harper was in serious trouble over contempt and the economy, and if he’d failed yet again to win a majority, his own party would probably have wanted him gone.

      At the very least, it’s a plausible motive.

    • They were not all potential swing ridings if you look at the list. For instance, why target Parkdale-High Park? What seems more likely to me is that a smaller list of ridings were targeted (maybe just Guelph) but the lists for the robocallers had a few inaccuracies. As a result a few people in other ridings got calls. But even then, this would have to affect the voting behavior of thousands of people to change the outcome of the election.

    • 1. Many were not swing ridings. Why the hell would the Tories try to suppress the Liberal vote in Parkdale-High Park?
      2. The phone records of Racknine have been subpeonaed, and the cell phone making the calls has been identified (from somewhere in Joliette, Quebec… not a lot of conservatives there).
      3. There is a difference between “a company working for the Conservatives” and a company that has been hired by the Conservatives at some point in the past.
      4. Dean del Mastro has suggested that he was targeted. Scott Reid has also pointed to many of his constituents getting incorrect polling information from Elections Canada.

  4. Thx for providing cover for them…again Ibittson.

  5. From Racknine’s website: RackNine does not monitor outgoing calls made by customers through the automated service.

    Source: RackNine Inc working proactively with Elections Canada and Law Enforcement Agencies | RackNine

    From the CRTC rules on ADAD use:2. A telemarketer shall not initiate, and a client of a telemarketer shall make all reasonable efforts to ensure that the telemarketer does not initiate, a telemarketing telecommunication via an ADAD unless express consent has been provided by the consumer to receive a telemarketing telecommunication via an ADAD from that telemarketer or the client of that telemarketer. For greatercertainty and without limiting the generality of the foregoing, this prohibition includes telemarketing telecommunications via an ADAD that are initiated by or on behalf of a charity, for the purpose of requesting a consumer to hold until a telemarketer is available, for activities such as radio station promotions, or for referring consumers to 900 or 976 service numbers.In order for Racknine to comply with CRTC rules, wouldn’t they need to know who their clients are and what kind of messages they plan to send? ADAD users are exempt from rule #2 if there is no attempt to solicit. But to know whether or not there is an exemption, they really need to know who they are dealing with. So, as I understand the rules around ADADs, they are either covering up what they know, or they are failing to comply with CRTC rules. Either way, if the CPC is not complicit, they should be full-force pushing an investigation into this company’s operating procedures.


  7. This is exactly the type of hysterical co-ordinated rhetoric we “Liberals” and NDPeers, and our media, need to keep manufacturing. Our media have to continue to manufacture “scandal”, and we have to blindly regurgitate whatever torqued rhetoric they come up with, and we have to do this every week. We have to continue the manufactured narrative that “Harper” and the CONs are illegitimate, and turn every Con fart into a hysterical waterfall of mind dumbing desperate hyperbole. We need more Pat ( F U ) Martin and his unhinged, over the top rhetoric, while our echo chamber media turn every pimple into a puss filled goiter. If us “Liberals” and NDPeers want to drag our rotting carcass away from the parapets of obscurity and opposition we cannot, and must not, rely on policy or alternatives to Con policy, rationality must been thrown out of the play book, we must instead resort to exactly this type of over the top witch hunt style derangement syndrome. If we can continue this deranged narrative for the next 3 years, then we can use it to our advantage in the next election. Let’s face it, thats our only chance of returning to power where we can continue to impose the country that our beloved Pierre Trudeau manufactured for us. Let’s put our collectivist minds together and come up with another empty, manufactured “scandal” for next week, this one, like all the other ones is losing steam. 

    • Wow – can you even see anything when your head is so far up your arse?  Take your blinders off and maybe, just maybe learn to put your country ahead of your blind allegiance to a very msiguided bunch of inept neophytes.

    • LOL!
      Crazy much?

      • Well… I do vote “Liberal”… and I love CBC… I suffer from Harper derangement syndrome… so, technically… 

        • A conservative concern troll… who just so happens to lie about who he is when broadcasting messages to the public. Are we seeing a pattern emerge?

          • Said the witch hunting “Liberal” troll… Are we seeing a pattern here?

    • No one has to manufacture anything. Baird, Mackay, Toews, et al are creating scandal & showing their ineptitude & contempt for taxpayers and democracy just fine on their own. 

      • You’re right, no one does have to manufacture anything… although… it does help, comrade.

    •  I hope you’re being sarcastic, because not only is this clearly NOT manufactured, but I for one take a sabotaged federal election VERY seriously!

      • Correction… you only take supposed “electoral fraud” VERY seriously if the accusations of said “fraud” are leveled against the elected Conservative Government. “Liberal”, NDPQ dirty tricks and electoral fraud… not so much. 

        • I may be wrong, but based on the discussions I’ve been involved in on this site, most of the regular commenters of all stripes (a handful of trolls like you excepted) would turn on their party in a heartbeat if they thought senior party members endorsed this kind of behaviour.

          The regulars know I’m no CPC fan, but I really hope for our nation’s sake this is the action of a few rogue, fringe members of the CPC (I really don’t think one guy could pull this off, but that doesn’t mean party establishment is involved).

          The CPC should get out in front of this and insist on a full and complete investigation – but given past behaviour and having seen where the Gomery Inquiry got Martin, I think they will be more likely to try to tough it out.

  8. It is difficult to believe someone, in this case the pm, who seems to hold an almost anal control over all of his party members and MPs (shame on the latter for being so gutless) is now saying “I knew nothing!”.  Perhaps stephen should refresh his memory with the tale of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”.  Other than his dwindling supporters who will follow this character into the trash bin of history, no one with an ounce of integrity believes a word that oozes out of his lying and twisted mouth anymore.

  9. Cons are going down over robogate

    • The sad thing is that they won’t. Conservative supporters are supportive of attempts to subvert democracy and commit electoral fraud.

      • And that’s why they stick around.  Be a good Stepford wife (albeit genuine true blue Capital C Conservative) and the boss looks the other way.  Anything less, and you’re toast.  Either way, no questions asked.

  10. notice none of the usual con supporters are posting anything.

    They need to wait for thier approved talking points to arrive in their inboxes.

    Its funny to watch as they start to say exactly what the government is about to say or has just said within minutes of each other.

  11. There was a recent story (Ottawa Citizen??) that went through a list of ridings where suspect behaviour occurred – none went Conservative.

    • Doesn’t make a whit of difference. This was a subversion of democracy. That’s what fascists do.

  12. 18 “rogues” calling Liberal supporters in different ridings across the country, and reports of them doing the same to NDP supporters rolling in from the West?  It’s a lilttle hard to swallow that this wasn’t centrally orchestrated.  

    • I blame “Harper”. 

      • Keep this up, dipsh!t. In case the irony is totally lost on you, you’re doing a wonderful job of demonstrating Con “strategies”.

        Carry on. And thanks for helping to make the opposition’s case!

        • Come on, neutereddog… I’m on you’re side… Thats what “Liberals”/ NDPeers like you and I do… I’m just happy we have this orchestrated pre-conceived smear campaign, without evidence, to try and seize power again… Gawd knows we could never do it legitimately.

          • I thank you again. Your continued contributions strengthen my assertion about the sleaziness of Con “strategies”.

          • Well, neutered dog, coming from a “Liberal” like yourself, it would be difficult for me to question your expertise on “sleaziness”. High praise indeed! Now, lets get back to the lynching of these Cons without evidence, with all the hypocritical, self righteous, phoniness we can manufacture… after all… manufacturing “sleaziness” is what we “Liberals” do best, right, my canine comrade.  

          • Attaboy! Your team perpetrates, on compelling circumstantial evidence at the very least, a massive electoral scam and then plays the aggrieved victim card when accused of it.

            As one of your kindred spirits would yelp: the gall!

  13. It’s ridiculous, obsolutely ridiculous to even suggest this was a isolated incident that a “rouge” staffer executed. Mr. Sona worked in one campaign riding, this appears to have happened in almost 30 nationally. How would he have access to this information and funding to do it alone?

     Commentators have often suggested that while there’s no information pinning it on Sona or anyone specifically in the CPC it does fit their profile. I would also suggest that knowing the way the CPC operates, it’s ridiculous to suggest Harper and others higher up in the party had no knowledge or control over this. It’s antithetical to the way they think and operate… top-down and always centralized.

    • Actually there are a lot of factors that could make a one-riding scam impact 30 ridings (particularly since many of the 30 were not swing ridings, and many did not involve enough calls to materially alter the results of the election and since some calls targeted a Tory incumbent, Dean del Mastro).

      1. The robocallers may not have had accurate lists, so some calls might have gone to people in other ridings. My parents get stuff for Toronto-Danforth all the time, although they live in a completely different part of the city.
      2. Some of the elections Canada calls might have been actual mistakes by elections Canada, which does happen.
      3. Some of the claims could be from partisans wishing to make the scandal bigger (for instance one of the people making such claims was the wife of a Liberal candidate)
      4. Multiple parties might have been using such tactics (which is why P-HP an NDP-Liberal race got calls, and why Dean del Mastro was targeted).
      5. Some people may remember the details of the calls they got on election night incorrectly (I mean if Mitt Romney can claim he was at a parade 9 months before he was born…).

      • Yeah, and pigs fly too!

      • We know they came from an account holder at Racknine. We know the other parties don’t use Racknine. We know it took some significant resources to get Racknine to do it.

        It may all be circumstantial to us at this point, but odds are the guy holding the bloody knife above the body is the one who did it.

  14.  This is completely unacceptable, as a Conservative supporter and member I want this to be investigated as much as anyone else, maybe even more.  This is not what our party, which more than any other honours the sacrifices of our soldiers in upholding democracy represents. There needs to be a thorough investigation of what happened immediately. 

  15.  It’s not a witch hunt when there’s serious evidence that Harper broke the law.

    • I agree… it’s not a witch hunt when we “Liberals” make unfounded accusations based on circumstantial evidence… and it’s not deranged either… it’s simply good sound partizan hatred, witch is perfectly rational.

  16.  It’s only “Derangement syndrome” if you hate a leader for no good reason.

    Leaving aside Harper’s constant attacks on opponents, his financial incompetence, and his plan to spy on all of us for no reason, HE’S BEEN ACCUSED OF STEALING AN ELECTION.

    PPardon me if I call that a good reason to hate his guts.

    • ACCUSED OF STEALING AN ELECTION by hyperactive partisans, with minimal, circumstantial evidence, isn’t the same thing as STOLE AN ELECTION, sweetie.

  17.  Actually I have no idea what Paul Martin has said about Harper. I base my hatred of that fascist asshat, entirely on what he’s actually done.

    • Good one… I base my irrational hatred of “Harper” on the fact I’m a “Liberal” too.

  18.  Fine but the Conservatives still contaminated a federal election.

    • … and even if the Conservatives didn’t do whats being alleged… it’s still nice to say they “contaminated the election”… whether they did or not doesn’t matter, right? Being a “Liberal” is so much fun!

  19. Something doesn’t make sense to me. Many of the ridings on the list are not swing ridings. For instance, why would the Tories have any incentive to use misleading robo-calls in Parkdale-High Park, a riding where the likely outcome for them was a distant third? And P-HP is not the only dubious riding on that list.

    Of the 18 ridings (I realize that some more have come out of the woodwork, though the newer cases are a bit more dubious since they came after this story went big) where the Liberals and NDP have made claims, here is the Tory margin of victory (or defeat if they lost):

    Kitchener-Conestoga: +32.28%Niagara Falls: +29.77%Haldimand-Norfolk: +26%Cambridge: +25.72%Egmont: +23.34%Oakville: +20.92%Saint-Boniface: +19.5%London West: +17.72%Eglinton-Lawrence: +8.39%Kitchener-Waterloo, +3.23%London North Centre: +3.16%Don Valley East: +2.22%Winnipeg South Centre: +1.8%Willowdale: +1.8%Sydney-Victoria: -2.06%St. Paul’s: -8.2%Guelph: -10.72%Parkdale-High Park, -31.65%

    Source for list:

    Moreover, in many of these ridings, you have very few people making such claims – far less than would be needed in order to materially alter the results of the election (which is what would have to happen for Elections Canada to call for new elections). You would need for thousands, and in some cases, tens of thousands of people to be called in many of these ridings.

    What we have is probably a mix of different things, which makes it harder to finger any culprits. Here is my guess as to what happened:
    -There appears to have been some foul play in Guelph
    -Due to inaccurate lists of who lived in Guelph, some Tory robocalls went out to other ridings (Guelph seems to be the only riding where the number of calls was particularly big)
    -Some people coming out of the woodwork now are Liberal or NDP partisans, wishing to make the scandal bigger (they may inadvertently undermine it, however, if their stories don’t add up)
    -There may have been a separate scam sending false information from Elections Canada about changing polling stations, although it is also possible that Elections Canada screwed up.

    •  Ooh Dean Del Mastro, Minister of Domestic Whine.

      • So unsubstantiated claims are unquestionably correct, unless they come from Conservatives. Just wanted to see what page folks were on. Thanks.

        • Dean isn’t saying he was targeted by robocalls. 

      • Nice hypocrisy… Good for you!

    • No, he’s saying his supporters were targeted by deceitful and abusive calls.
      Like sign vandals, it’s unsurprising (if disheartening) that there are isolated incidents of this kind of thing on both sides, all over the country.

      The difference is the robocall incident appears to be a targeted campaign.

  20. “I don’t really know, but perhaps while they were building their database they took note of those who claimed to be Liberal, not just those who claimed to be conservative?”

    It’s definitely true.  I understand they have fourteen ‘interest’ categories for their own supporters, plus I’m sure they have the strength of the other party support as they identify other party supporters.  And if that doesn’t work, they can always troll Facebook, as you say, and they’ve done.  Except for the Facebook part, there’s nothing wrong with any of that (and I only find the Facebook thing icky, not illegal) but good on them to keep track of as much as they can about the electorate.  That doesn’t mean its okay to use it in this way.Anyway, I understand they have fourteen ‘interest’ categories per voter set up in their database.  The better to target fundraising efforts for their own supporters, and hell, even we Liberals identify which other party voters tell us they plan to vote for when they tell us.

  21. There must be a way to stop majority governments.  It doesn’t matter which party wins, majority govts do not reflect the views of most Canadians.  Dishonest politicians are widely understood to be a fact.  But, misrepresentations, unkept promises and the like are not the way to run a country.  We only have to watch what is going on in Syria, Turkey and many more to realize how precious our Democracy really is.  I would like to see who ever responsible or involved in any way with these tactics be punished to the full extent of the law.  Soon, with this govt in power, our Charter Rights and Freedoms will be taken away.  Anyone daring to say anything contrary to this govt will be picked up and silenced under the guise of being a terrorist.

    • Right now? Just armed insurrection. (which the CPC is in favor of, actually)

      Ideally we’d implement some sort of reasonable recall legislation.